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  • The War

    I watched the opening episode of Ken Burn's latest "epic" film, "The War" on PBS/KCET (which continues tonight with several more episodes to follow...repeating next week on Channel 24 in the I.E., and 50 in Orange County next week).

    Even though each episode lasts almost 2 1/2 hours, I found the first one, at least, pretty riveting. He's using the lives of a few people in four towns across the country to tell the story.

    I have watched all the Ken Burns stuff on PBS, and while I've liked some series better than others, it's usually well worth the time to check it out.

    I have an interest in WWII history, and enjoy much of the imagery and song from that era. This film helps remind one of the bloody, harsh reality lining those, in somewhat the same was as films like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Flags Of Our Fathers/Letters From Iwo Jima".

    I think I've picked the right forum for this. If it winds up more of a debate, so be it.
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

  • #2
    Re: The War

    I am tivo-ing this, it looks really good. The previews were all over tv and got me interested!

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    • #3
      Re: The War

      I wish I had TV just to watch this. I love his Civil War documentary.
      There is no right or wrong in this debate. It is simply a matter of perspective.
      -Dr. Strange

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      • #4
        Re: The War

        We forgot it was starting last night and tuned in right as it was going off at 10:30. But then it repeated again right away and so stayed up until 11:15 to watch but had to go to bed. I will be watching this in repeats I think. I thought Ken Burns Civil War docu was excellent (my daughter is a Civil War re-enactor).

        What I saw of this new one was very good and it sure doesn't pull any punches showing the atrocities of war and what horrible people Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo were. The honors that we are bestowing on this "greatest generation" are well deserved and I salute them.


        sigpic

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        • #5
          Re: The War

          Originally posted by Wren View Post
          I wish I had TV just to watch this. I love his Civil War documentary.
          I loved that also, and as you might suspect I also enjoyed his film on baseball. That aired during one of the darkest periods of my (sports fan) life - the players strike hat wiped out the end of the season, and post-season in 1994.
          God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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          • #6
            Re: The War

            Read a part of USA Today that struck me as so poignant. In it, a pilot says that eventually he got to thinking he wasn't going to make it home, and that he probably should make his life count for something while he was still alive and fighting. He lived to tell this.

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            • #7
              Re: The War

              I watched it last night with Ken and learned so many things I never knew about World War 2. It was really good. The only thing that was hard to take was some of the really gruesome footage.

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              • #8
                Re: The War

                Originally posted by Radiobarry View Post
                I loved that also, and as you might suspect I also enjoyed his film on baseball.
                Let's not leave out Ken's very talented brother, Ric Burns. Ric has done dozens of other documentaries about various subjects in the same style...an almost trademarked style that he developed with his brother Ken. As an example and sort of related to this bulletin board, Ric Burn's "Coney Island" for "The American Experience" series on PBS...was IMHO, one of the best documentaries ever produced, directed, and edited...and totally conveyed and evoked the "feel" of time and place of America's first amusement park(containing themed parks), in its glory days. A wonderful, wonderful film that any theme park fan would enjoy. Worth hunting down.

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                • #9
                  Re: The War

                  Originally posted by Princess Buttercup View Post
                  I watched it last night with Ken and learned so many things I never knew about World War 2. It was really good. The only thing that was hard to take was some of the really gruesome footage.
                  For reasons I cannot fathom, some people tend to kind of "romanticize" war. Movies and books over the years have tended to do this, especially WWII movies made in the 50's and 60's. It's good, I think, when people see war for what it's really like, no matter how necessary or noble the cause.

                  Did anybody see last night (Monday's) installment? I have it recorded, but haven't been able to watch it yet.
                  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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                  • #10
                    Re: The War

                    Each episode I've seen so far has been very compelling. KCET also ran a local show on "California At War", recounting many stories, including those of the shelling of the Goleta oil fields, about a half hour north of where I now live.
                    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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                    • #11
                      Re: The War

                      I watched the first eps with my Dad - who was 10 when they bombed Pearl Harbor - so I got a lot of insight as to what happened in CA during the war - very interesting stuff - We have so much to learn from the 'older generation'
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                      • #12
                        Re: The War

                        I've been watching this all week.

                        I've been a longtime World War II buff, and from the episodes that have aired so far, I believe this is one of the finest World War II documentaries ever made. The focus on personal human experiences of the war and how it impacted individuals and families, rather than broader military tactics and strategies and national and international politics, makes it much more compelling and watchable than so many other documentary films.

                        My only quibble with the series, and it's a relatively minor one relating to editing and structure, has to do with those of the Latino American veterans, as seen in the latter part of the first episode. As the film was being completed, Burns and company were very rightly criticized for overlooking the experiences of Latino Americans in the war, so they found a few Latino American vets, interviewed them, and compiled photos and footage relating to them toward the end of editing. Unfortunately, their stories are not interweaved seamlessly into the main body of the film, and so that portion of the film feels tacked on as an afterthought (which, frankly, it is, and better that it's there than not, but it would have made the film stronger if it were not so isolated from the rest of the narrative). This is a noticeable drawback, but the portions of the film that tell the Latino American tales are just as compelling in their own right as the rest of the stories in the film.

                        Overall, this is a landmark documentary series, an excellent primer for World War II study, and will very likely be seen in classrooms for years and years to come.

                        http://www.pbs.org/thewar/

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<obje...mbed></object>

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                        • #13
                          Re: The War

                          The final episode for this was last night, and now (at least on my local PBS station) they're rerunning each episode every Wednesday night.

                          So, who watched it? I still believe that this is one of the very best World War II documentaries made. Sadly, some of the people interviewed have passed on since they were filmed, including Ray Leopold, who died of a heart attack at age 92 this past July.

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                          • #14
                            Re: The War

                            It was simply brilliant.
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                            • #15
                              Re: The War

                              I am still working through it, will catch the last 3 eps this weekend.

                              But it was well made. Not wanting to spoil it for those who havent gotten that far but I thought it a very effective technique to have built up one of the characters as someone we were following, and then have him killed. It broke my heart when it happened.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Re: The War

                                Ken Burns does great work. This is one of his best shows since the Civil War.

                                It's also great to tell the stories about the average soldiers and the people at home. Amazing what these people when through.

                                As was said before it was outstanding for Ken Burns to talk about the bad things that were done on all sides. War is an awful thing.
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                                • #17
                                  Re: The War

                                  As some of you may know, I've been working for the past few years on a couple of projects for a company located in Houston, and I've been spending a lot of time here in Texas (where I am right now) as a result. This company is a big patron of the arts in town, and just this morning I was invited to a private reception with Ken Burns before he gives a presentation at The Wortham Center in downtown Houston on November 13th.

                                  Needless to say...I'm going to make certain that I'll be back in Houston on that night.

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                                  • #18
                                    Re: The War

                                    I've been saving this series on Ti-vo but have only made my way through the first three episodes. Pretty dramatic footage, much of which I haven't seen before. I think Burns did another fantastic job with this series, but I'm a little disappointed in the scoring for this documentary. Much of the same music is repeated again and again. There's one segment which uses a cello and some type of Chinese string instrument, and they've already used it about 6 or 7 times. The thing that jumped out at me last night (I'm a few nights behind) was that they used the same track for shots of the carnage in Europe, which made no sense at all. Usually Burns is pretty meticulous about this kind of thing. That one track is so annoying that I've actually turned the sound down to avoid listening to it again. I think the film could have used more strings and more emotional writing rather than the abstract stuff they've kept repeating. Much of the music, other than the popular tunes of the day, doesn't lend itself to the film, IMO. So...for the series, I would give Burns an A plus, but whoever did the scoring for it needs a bit more experience. The music only gets a C- from me.

                                    Cool to have Tom Hanks reading the stories from that newspaper editior. The footage and the first hand accounts from the survivors are riveting. THIS was very well done and kudos to Burns for another great series.

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: The War

                                      Originally posted by localdisnyfan View Post
                                      I've been saving this series on Ti-vo but have only made my way through the first three episodes. Pretty dramatic footage, much of which I haven't seen before. I think Burns did another fantastic job with this series, but I'm a little disappointed in the scoring for this documentary. Much of the same music is repeated again and again. There's one segment which uses a cello and some type of Chinese string instrument, and they've already used it about 6 or 7 times. The thing that jumped out at me last night (I'm a few nights behind) was that they used the same track for shots of the carnage in Europe, which made no sense at all. Usually Burns is pretty meticulous about this kind of thing. That one track is so annoying that I've actually turned the sound down to avoid listening to it again. I think the film could have used more strings and more emotional writing rather than the abstract stuff they've kept repeating. Much of the music, other than the popular tunes of the day, doesn't lend itself to the film, IMO. So...for the series, I would give Burns an A plus, but whoever did the scoring for it needs a bit more experience. The music only gets a C- from me.
                                      Wynton Marsalis composed three pieces for the score, but much of the non-jazz and non-pop part of the soundtrack was from various classic pieces that Burns picked. I agree, though, some of them were overused.

                                      http://www.pbs.org/thewar/about_music.htm

                                      The one track you're referring to is probably Movin' Back, which was composed by Wynton Marsalis. I agree, it's an abstract piece, with the otherworldly slide guitar sound that utilized a magnetic eBow, but it's mostly a bluesy funereal dirge. It tended to fit in most spots, given the amount of death that occurred in the war. Blue As The Turquoise Night of Neyshabur, composed by Kayhan Kalhor, was the one you mentioned with the "Chinese instrument" (actually it's a Persian piece that combines Western strings, Indian tabla, and Persian instruments). It was performed by Yo-Yo Ma & the Silk Road Ensemble. It was very appropriately creepy, I thought.

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: The War

                                        Just an update from Post #17 above...got to meet and chat with Ken Burns tonight. What a thrill. Very passionate and intelligent man. While talking he started to quote Abraham Lincoln and I finished the quote. He was impressed and asked if I was a Lincoln fan. I answered yes, but then told him I knew the passage from "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland. He got a laugh out of that and asked me if the show was still there. I told him it got displaced due to a Marketing promotion and didn't know for sure if it was coming back.

                                        I also asked what was next for him and he said he just signed a contract with PBS that runs to the year 2022. But he still has to raise most of the money himself. Currently already in the works though are a "10th Inning" update and supplement to his "Baseball" documentary, as well as new films on Prohibition, FDR, Vietnam, and one about the creation of the National Parks.

                                        Anyway...after the private reception it was over to the Brown Theater (at The Wortham Center here in Houston) where we enjoyed a brief pre-lecture concert of patriotic music by the Huntsville Men's Choir. Very nice and moving. This was followed by acknowledgment of all the veterans in attendance.

                                        Then Ken gave his lecture and it was extremely interesting to hear about his career and how "The War" came about and into being. He's very opinionated on the low level of education in this country right now...but he's very optimistic about the future. This was followed by a question and answer period.

                                        One thing I really noticed: Out of all the thousands of people in attendance, I could count the number that were under 30 years of age on two hands. I'm not kidding. It was all older folks. That was kind of sad to see.

                                        Anyway...it was a great Veterans Day event and it was great to personally meet and talk with someone that I always wanted to meet in person. And my autographed book is now in tow.

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